While campaigning for San Antonio City Council District 6, Melissa Cabello Havrda occasionally told a story about a walk she went on with her grandfather in the district when she was a child.
She asked why there were no sidewalks where her grandparents lived on San Antonio’s West Side. Her grandfather said porque no les importa. They don’t care about us.
Havrda said she first became inspired to help her community on that walk. More than three decades after hearing those words from her grandfather, Havrda became the District 6 Councilwoman on Saturday, winning a runoff election with Andy Greene, a fellow longtime resident of the district.
“I think he would be really proud of me for fighting a good fight for people like him, for people who don’t believe that city government, or government in general, is for them,” a smiling, teary-eyed Havrda said of her grandfather following her win. “I need to do them proud by making sure that I am that person for them, and that I am advocating for people who don ‘t think they have access to their representatives.”
The victory came two years after Havrda narrowly lost a runoff election for the same seat to Greg Brockhouse, who vacated his District 6 position this year to run for mayor against incumbent Ron Nirenberg. Brockhouse lost that contentious race Saturday.
Havrda is only the third woman to represent District 6, joining Helen Ayala, who was appointed to the District 6 seat in 1992 and Delicia Herrera, who was elected in 2005.
More than 11,000 votes were cast in the runoff in District 6 with Havrda receiving 6,641 to Greene’s 5,005.
Greene said he was probably at a disadvantage from the start because he waited longer to get into the race and begin raising money. He said he did so because he worked for Brockhouse at the time and wanted to wait to see if Brockhouse would run again to remain on the City Council or challenge Nirenberg.
“I had 5,000 people vote for me and I think that’s a fantastic accomplishment,” Greene said. “In many council districts, that would have won the race.”
Greene said he has a lot of options for work in his immediate future, including ongoing clients in his CPA business. He isn’t ruling out another run for the District 6 seat in two years.
“I had a good count and we’ll see how this council is going to be,” Greene said. “It looks like there isn’t going to be much change on the council. It looks like it’s going to be a pretty progressive council and the people might not be happy with that. We’ll see where it goes.”
The council will change in one big way. With Havrda’s election along with Adriana Rocha Garcia winning in District 4 and Jada Andrews-Sullivan winning in District 2, the council will be 60 percent women for only the second time.
“I’m excited about that,” Havrda said. “I think it’s about time. I think it will be more collaborative and we’ll be able to build more consensus. I’m not saying we’ll always agree on everything, but we’ll be able to work it out I think. …I think it’s time for us to step up and be leaders and make things better for all women and all citizens in this city.”
Havrda received 47 percent of the vote in the election May 4 and Greene received 35 percent. Havrda finished more than 1,100 votes ahead of Greene, who said he thought he could make up the difference in the month leading up the runoff. Havrda expanded her margin of victory instead.
It could be that voters simply had more familiarity with Havrda from her 2017 run against Brockhouse.
Havrda and Greene ran a cordial campaign with no real major differences developing between them. Both have lived in the district for decades, with Havrda having grown up in its neighborhoods on Timber Wagon near Culebra Road and Tezel Road.
Havrda called Greene “a good man” with a good work ethic. She said Greene has done a lot for the people of San Antonio and she did not rule out collaborating with him in some way still to be determined.
During her campaign, Havrda said she would focus her energy on working for better schools, improved infrastructure, and safety for the people in her district. She also set her sights on wanting more oversight of how property values and taxes are determined in the city.
She said none of that has changed. She planned to finally take a Sunday off and then begin the transition to her new role in the coming week.